Jackie Cahill reports from Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow
Dublin senior panellist Olivia Leonard was superb as St Maurs claimed All-Ireland junior club glory on Saturday.
Leonard ruled the roost at midfield and scored 1-5 from play as St Maurs won the battle of the first-time finalists at Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow.
It was an exceptional game of football played out in front of a bumper crowd and St Maurs managed to hold off a second half fightback from Cork opponents Kinsale to win by two points.
Kinsale’s All-Star forward Orla Finn scored five points, with All-Ireland minor medallist Sadhbh O’Leary finishing with 2-2, but this was an exceptional defensive effort from St Maurs, who had Jessica Kelly excellent in the spare role at the back.
At half-time, St Maurs were 2-8 to 1-4 clear and it was a devastating spell of scoring approaching the break that opened up a seven-point advantage.
The sides were level at 1-3 apiece after 20 minutes but St Maurs opened up with an unanswered 1-5 to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
Video by Jerome Quinn:
Kinsale went without another score until late in the half, when Finn’s third point of the game, and second free, completed the scoring before the interval.
St Maurs could have had even more on the scoreboard by half-time after registering 10 wides, Kinsale notching six themselves.
St Maurs were determined to stop Finn and O’Leary causing havoc in the Kinsale inside line and dropping back an extra player helped to clog up the space in which the dynamic duo were keen to operate.
And with Leonard running the show in the centre of the park, lethal sisters Niamh and Laura Carthy were free to do their stuff in attack.
And it was Laura Carthy who struck for the game’s opening goal in the ninth minute, a stunning finish after Leonard and Niamh Carthy created the opening.
But Kinsale’s goal was an equalising effort, Aoife Keating following the ball in to make sure after Francesca Towers had brilliantly saved the midfielder’s initial effort.
St Maurs took over from there until the break, however, and it was Laura Carthy’s off-load that allowed Leonard to power through the Kinsale defence for a clinical finish in the 25th minute, and a second goal for the Dubliners put them in the driving seat.
Leonard kick-started the second half scoring with another super effort from play but Kinsale, who lost goalkeeper and captain Aisling Judge to injury in the first half, stuck at it.
They were back in contention when O’Leary converted a 36th minute penalty and it was very much game on nine minutes later when the corner forward’s effort snuck past Towers at her near post, with the goalkeeper confident that the ball was drifting wide.
Finn’s 46th minute point had the margin down to two, St Maurs ahead by 2-11 to 3-6, but the Metropolitans steadied the ship with fine points from Áine Pyne and Leonard, who was the stand-out player on show.
O’Leary and Finn replied with points for Kinsale, who refused to die, but they lost Emma O’Brien to the sin-bin late on and couldn’t reel St Maurs in.
Report by Jackie Cahill
Scorers for St Maurs: O Leonard 1-5, L Carthy 1-2, N Carthy 0-3 (1f), J Kelly, S McGuinness & Á Pyne 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kinsale: S O’Leary 2-2 (1-0 pen), O Finn 0-5 (2f), A Keating 1-0, F Ahern 0-1.
ST MAURS: F Towers; S.A. O’Brien, N Thorne, J Kelly; G Thorne, S McGuinness, S Moran; E McGuinness (capt.), O Leonard; N Carthy, E Conway, Á Pyne; L Harford, M Foley, L Carthy.
Subs: M Benson for O’Brien (35), M Moran for Harford (35), A McGuinness for Pyne (58), N Tynan for L Carthy (60+2).
KINSALE: A Judge (capt..); T McCarthy, E O’Brien, C Keohane; G Buckley, C O’Callaghan, G Gould; A Keating, L Copithorne; J Cronin, J Murphy, E Murphy; F Ahern, O Finn, S O’Leary.
Subs: D Tyner for Judge (inj., 28), R Murphy for Gould (h.t.), A Lee for O’Callaghan (60+3).
Referee: S Mulvihill (Kerry).